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If you consider his entire output, Johannes Brahms was an early bloomer. He reportedly wrote his first piano sonata at the age of 11, was touring as a pianist by 19, and was only 20 when Schumann sang of his virtues, calling him "a young man over whose cradle Graces and Heroes have stood watch". Heady stuff.

If you consider his entire output, Johannes Brahms was an early bloomer. He reportedly wrote his first piano sonata at the age of 11, was touring as a pianist by 19, and was only 20 when Schumann sang of his virtues, calling him "a young man over whose cradle Graces and Heroes have stood watch". Heady stuff.

It has been over two and one-half years since renowned pianist Emanuel Ax last appeared on the Powell Hall stage. Based on the stunning performance he and David Robertson gave us of the Brahms Second Concerto this past Sunday, that's at least two years too long. Combined with an impeccable version of Elgar's "Introduction and Allegro" and a new work by Detlev Glanert, it made for a thoroughly satisfying afternoon at the symphony.

April has been Big Piano Concerto Month at the St. Louis Symphony. Last week we had Rachmaninoff's daunting "Piano Concerto No. 3" . This week it's the equally intimidating "Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major," Op. 83, written in 1881 by Brahms.

The schedule at Powell Hall was packed this weekend, with David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony playing a Whitaker Foundation "Music You Know" concert on Friday and a pair of regular subscription concerts on Saturday and Sunday.

This weekend local classical fans get a double header with two different St. Louis Symphony concerts: a Whitaker Foundation "Music You Know" program on Friday, March 13, and music of Tchaikovsky, Debussy, and James MacMillan on Saturday and Sunday, March 14 and 15. David Robertson is at the podium for both.

"It's a major work," says St. Louis Symphony Chorus Director Amy Kaiser in the program notes for this weekend's concerts, "full of challenges: complex fugues, expressive segments, rich in harmonic details. It's a choral symphony, really." She's talking about the piece that takes up almost the entire program at Powell Hall, Brahms' "Ein deutches requiem" ("A German Requiem").

The late eighteenth century artistic movement known as sturm und drang (usually translated as "storm and stress") had already evolved into the pervading sensibility of the Romantic era by the time the earliest work on this weekend's St. Louis Symphony concerts—the "Piano Concerto No. 1" by Brahms—was written. But "storm and stress" of one sort or another lie at the heart of it and the other two pieces on the program.

Tuesday, 09 September 2014 18:28

Symphony Preview: Stormy Weather

Sturm und drang (usually translated as "storm and stress") was an early Romantic (late 18th century) movement in German literature and music that emphasized drama and conflict. Both Haydn and Mozart wrote symphonies that were seen as embodying the movement's approach.

The St. Louis Symphony's regular subscription season ended a month ago with a bang-up performance of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 the weekend of May 9th. But they've got a final encore concert for you this Saturday.

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